Can someone please pick apart maudlin st.?
It's definitely more poetic and less on the nose than the bulk of his stuff but as far as I can tell it takes place after either the breakup of a romantic relationship or after the falling out of two people with each other, one of whom (the narrator) was unrequitedly interested in more than a friendship with the other. The song is sung at a time when the narrator is moving, physically, away from the house/neighborhood that provided the homebase and backdrop of the aforementioned doomed affair, and the occasion gives him pause to reflect on it one last time and offer a kind of olive branch to his lost love/lost would-have-been love (wherever you are I hope you're singing now.)
The policeman line is odd; it implies some aspect of illegality to the affair. Not necessarily pedophilia but perhaps one of them hit the other or perhaps, if the affair occurred when the narrator was a minor, his mother had the police intervene to bar the object of the narrator's affection from seeing him. It's ambiguous.
1972 is mentioned which puts Morrissey at a whopping 13. Definitely an apt age for a pubescent individual to have a clandestine affair with an adult but if your mother is super protective and overbearing, also an age where one could imagine she might not feel a serious relationship is appropriate yet with a partner of any age, and might take it upon herself to intervene, even going so far as to call the police.
But yeah, that cop part is a bit strange.
Thanks FWD. Interesting to note the link to Joni Mitchell with the covers album coming up.Mozipedia/ Goddard offers a reasonable explanation re: police in Maudlin Street.
It's basically a default book in the Morrissey inspiration section being cited as the framework for his lyric:
Elizabeth Smart’s By Grand Central Station I Sat Down And Wept, which contains the parallel phrases: ‘They are taking me away in a police car’, ‘… Inspector? Do you not believe in love?’, and the faint but still pertinent ‘Every yellow or scarlet leaf hangs like a flag waving me on’.
Full Mozipedia entry for the song:
Regards,Late Night, Maudlin Street. (Morrissey/Street),
From the album VIVA HATE (1988). An epic meditation on youth and loss, ‘Late Night, Maudlin Street’ was the outstanding centrepiece of Morrissey’s solo debut. Though located in the fictional Maudlin Street (probably named after the school in 1959’s CARRY ON Teacher), the song was, he admitted, an autobiographical review of his relatively bleak adolescence in 70s Manchester. The year is specified as 1972, when lack of fuel due to a miners’ strike caused nationwide power cuts (as mentioned) and the advent of Ted Heath’s ‘three-day week’. Above and beyond the raw recollections of anti-depressants, unexplained injuries, family deaths and bodily insecurity, whether intentional or not the prevailing themes of bidding goodbye to a lost love had heavy metaphorical resonance with the very recent break-up of The Smiths, adding much to its emotional impact upon fans at the time.
It’s been speculated that the title could have been modelled upon Late Night On Watling Street, a collection of short stories by the playwright Bill Naughton (a logical presumption given that Naughton wrote two of Morrissey’s favourite films, THE FAMILY WAY and SPRING AND PORT WINE). The lyrics also include yet more echoes of one of Morrissey’s staple sources, Elizabeth SMART’s By Grand Central Station I Sat Down And Wept, which contains the parallel phrases: ‘They are taking me away in a police car’, ‘… Inspector? Do you not believe in love?’, and the faint but still pertinent ‘Every yellow or scarlet leaf hangs like a flag waving me on’. Equally fascinating is the significance of the lyric about sleeping with a framed portrait beside his bed. During the making of Viva Hate, Morrissey prepared the artwork for the final Smiths single, ‘LAST NIGHT I DREAMT THAT SOMEBODY LOVED ME’, which was originally going to include a very similar inscription on the back sleeve: ‘When I sleep with that picture beside me … I really think it’s you.’ The single’s inner sleeve was also going to feature a lyric from ‘WELL I WONDER’, ‘please keep me in mind’. If, for sake of argument, these were overt messages to Marr, it adds weight to the popular theory that ‘Late Night, Maudlin Street’ is also another of his post-Smiths ‘Johnny songs’ shrouded in a fog of teenage nostalgia.
Like all the best Morrissey lyrics, the power and passion of his performance transcends whatever specific events inspired him to write it in the first place. The consistency of his delivery (a full seven minutes with very few interludes) and the range of his vocal inflexions – from his ‘truly I do love you’ refrain possibly modelled on an identical Marc BOLAN passage in T.Rex’s ‘The Visit’ to the spectacular yodel he gives ‘clothes line’ – have a hypnotic effect, dragging the listener with him back into his murky past with all its regret and heartache, forcing them to relive and reassess their own. Tellingly, Sandie SHAW remembers first hearing the track during the making of the album when Morrissey turned and caught her eye ‘with such a pained expression … I cried, he cried. I sensed his fear and I felt so frightened for him.’ Yet even at his most soul-searching, ‘Late Night, Maudlin Street’ still manages a shred of humour in the concept of the whole country throwing up at the sight of a naked Morrissey. This bodily self-abhorrence had been alluded to before in ‘MISERABLE LIE’ and would resurface again many years later on ‘FRIDAY MOURNING’.
Since the strength of the song was entirely in the lyric and Morrissey’s vocal melody, there was little need for overpowering musical dramatics. Stephen Street wrote the basic chords during the break between the two Viva Hate recording sessions in November 1987 after Morrissey had told him he wanted ‘a long, rambling track like JONI MITCHELL’. By strange coincidence, Mitchell had been in the same studio, The Wool Hall, earlier in the year recording part of her 1988 album Chalk Mark In A Rain Storm: Morrissey was keen to discover which of the guest bedrooms she’d slept in and later offered it to Sandie SHAW when she visited. Both Street and drummer Andrew PARESI have a loose recollection of Mitchell’s 1975 album The Hissing Of Summer Lawns being Morrissey’s blueprint for the track. It’s possible, though in mood, length and lyrical introspection ‘Late Night, Maudlin Street’ has much more in common with the contents of 1976’s Hejira (featuring ‘Amelia’ which had already left its mark upon the lyrics of ‘Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me’).
Street nominates Vini REILLY’s added piano flourishes as ‘making it even more special’, also admitting the sharp drum beat underpinning the track was sampled from ‘Housequake’ off Prince’s recent Sign O’ The Times album (rather apt since Prince, like Morrissey, was a similarly besotted Joni fan). ‘Late Night, Maudlin Street’ was finally played in concert in 2002, with Morrissey dedicating its rendition at London’s Royal Albert Hall that September to the late actress Katrin CARTLIDGE.
Thanks FWD. Interesting to note the link to Joni Mitchell with the covers album coming up.
Yet even at his most soul-searching, ‘Late Night, Maudlin Street’ still manages a shred of humour in the concept of the whole country throwing up at the sight of a naked Morrissey.
There's also a great double entendre in the follow-on line regarding the size of Morrissey's genitals, which seems to pass most casual listeners by:
"Me - without clothes?
Well a nation turns its back and gags -
And I'm packed"